Not only criminals blow up ATMs, but also specialists from the State Criminal Police Office - but only to gain new insights.

Test blasting is one of the tools that a coalition of Hessian security agencies and 15 credit institutions are using to combat a phenomenon that has taken on major proportions in recent years.

Ewald Hetrodt

Correspondent for the Rhein-Main-Zeitung in Wiesbaden.

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According to the Interior Ministry, 16 machines were blown up in Hesse this year alone.

In 2021 there were 18 cases in the same period.

The Federal Criminal Police Office recorded 392 crimes throughout Germany in 2021.

The numbers are the highest since the offense was included in the police crime statistics in 2005. The trend is continuing in large parts of the Federal Republic in the current year, reports Hessian Interior Minister Peter Beuth (CDU).

According to him, the sum of the money stolen so far this year is around 270,000 euros.

In addition, there are damages of more than 2.6 million euros.

Beuth pointed out that the blasting would not only destroy the bank premises.

Because the perpetrators used highly dangerous solid explosives, they also endangered the surroundings of bank branches, i.e. adjacent living spaces where people were staying.

The most important countermeasure is the analysis of the risks

In 2019, the State Criminal Police Office formed a specialized investigative team that, according to Beuth, arrested more than 30 suspects.

At the end of last year, a "special organizational structure" was set up, which consulted with the Hessian banking industry about effective measures.

The Alliance has now emerged from this cooperation, and its representatives introduced themselves at a press conference held by the Minister of the Interior on Wednesday.

This "close ranks" is unique in Germany and will set an example for the whole of Germany, said Beuth.

The aim is to significantly reduce the number of cases in order to prevent damage and protect people.

The most important common countermeasure consists of an analysis of the risks.

On the one hand, they exist in the spatial location.

For example, an ATM at a motorway service area is particularly tempting for criminals.

Because from there the escape route is easy.

Things are much more difficult in a pedestrian zone. The second risk is determined by the actual security of the machine.

The better it is, the lower the criminals' chances.

The trusting exchange of such information within the alliance creates a picture of the situation with data on location, make and safety precautions.

On this basis, a risk assessment and a probability forecast would be created, said the President of the State Criminal Police Office, Michael Röhrig.

The arrest of three suspects by special forces in March this year in Ober-Mörlen in central Hesse shows that the prognosis software is fulfilling its purpose.

During the investigation, it was found that the perpetrators apparently wanted to blow up a total of three ATMs.

Prevention is the "supreme discipline"

After a comparison with the figures provided by the banks, it was also found that the three ATMs had all been rated as particularly at risk by the analysis tool.

This "impressively underpins" the effectiveness of the forecasting software, according to Röhrig.

This is significant because in this case, too, the "supreme discipline" is prevention.

Their specific design is based on the individual security concepts of the credit institutions, which are continuously advised by the State Criminal Police Office and the regional police headquarters.

The measures include, for example, closing the rooms at night and video surveillance.

If the machines themselves are additionally secured, test blasts serve to subject the measures to a realistic endurance test.

On this basis, there is also an exchange with the manufacturers of the ATMs, with the judiciary and the Bundesbank.

Röhrig announced that these contacts would be intensified in the coming months.